Regional leaders prepare to meet over DRC unrest

Monday's meeting of leaders and ministers, hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, will consider recommendations drawn up at earlier meetings to set up an "international neutral force" to intervene in the area, but which have so far made little headway.

Tensions remain high between Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, who are both expected to attend the meeting, with Kinshasa accusing Kigali of stoking violence by aiding rebel forces.

The meeting is the fourth in four months organised by the 11-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and follows talks held last month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

"The presidents of Rwanda and DR Congo are expected because the meeting is about the situation in eastern DRC," said Uganda's minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello-Oryem.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is also expected because the country could potentially "provide troops for deployment in DRC", Okello-Oryem added.

Eastern DRC has been hit hard by a rebellion by army defectors who have formed a group called the M23, whose members are former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel movement integrated into the military under a 2009 peace deal.

Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges, is accused of leading the M23.

A UN report in June accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, causing a surge in tensions with DRC. Kigali denies the charge, and has been in talks with Kinshasa to set up a neutral force to tackle the unrest.

"This international neutral force is aimed at eradicating all the negative forces operating in eastern DRC," the ICGLR said in a statement. - AFP


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